Approach to keep America safe case study

Hammond Exam

On September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda attacked the heart of the American economy causing not only losses in terms of property and financial damage, but also widespread terror and fear which extended far beyond the borders of the United States of America affecting the world as a whole. Like any other nation, the foremost interest of the United States is national security[footnoteRef:1], which entails not only the security of the American people, but also the security of the American soil. Since American leadership has always looked towards a better future, the moral aim is to eliminate any such danger that exists in the 21st century, leading to a more peaceful, globalized near future[footnoteRef:2]. President Barrack Obama clearly stated in his speech that had there been no such risk, the troops deployed in Afghanistan would be ordered back home immediately. This objective of preserving national security, however, is aimed to be achieved without compromising on the ongoing objective of globalization through better economic and political relations with the rest of the world. [1: The United States of America National Security Strategy, May 2010, 8] [2: Ibid., 5]

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Although national security has always been a priority, after the 2001 attacks the United States moved towards a more aggressive approach to keep America safe and prevent such events from recurring. In the process of eliminating all risks of such attacks happening on the American soil in the future, the United States made its foremost objective to eliminate these threats known as Al-Qaeda and Taliban which are strongly believed to hail from Afghanistan, and have found their safe haven along the Afghan border which connects with Pakistan[footnoteRef:3]. It is in these nations, that the extremists are believed to attain their training and from where attacks like September 11 are planned. A more rigorous approach towards elimination of terrorism entailed an offensive strategy to dismantle the enemy at their own home to prevent risking the security of the people of the United States of America[footnoteRef:4]. Having seen how the extremists managed to migrate to Pakistan advocated a more hostile approach to avoid expansion of the terrorist network. [3: The United States of America Quadrennial Defense Review Report, February 2010, 6] [4: The United States of America Quadrennial Defense Review Report, February 2010, 12]

American troops deployed in Afghanistan are on the mission to eradicate terrorism, extremism and radicalism even if it requires the use of force in a foreign land. The mission, however, does not end here and extends toward rebuilding Afghanistan by empowering the majority of Afghan population which opposes the extremist agendas and desires peace. An example of this may be inferred from the current state of Iraq from where American troops have already exited[footnoteRef:5]. Although such extremist groups are known to be primarily based in Afghanistan and Pakistan, their spread is believed to be worldwide. While progressing on the mission to negate any national risk, the United States also emphasizes the great risk that American people may face if the nuclear powers in such foreign countries came into the wrong hands. In order to circumvent such a risk, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) signed in 1968, was strengthened to prevent misuse of such power and limit free sharing of such technology[footnoteRef:6]. [5: Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq (Report to Congress), March 2009, 1] [6: Treaty on the Non-Proliferation Nuclear Weapons 1968, Article 1]

The United States of America has always promoted democracy in the name of preserving human rights, freedom and equality, while also encouraging economic development of each nation on its own strength. Denial of such human rights and economic development in the modern world could never be viewed as anything less than a threat, which is what these extremist groups represent to the rest of the world. Countering such threats is not only important, but essential for the ultimate aim of peaceful globalization of the world representing one unit of humankind. It is to achieve this dream that American soldiers stand on the ground of Afghanistan, while ensuring the continued safety of the United States of America.

2. On 31st July, 2008, Ex- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates presented his National Defence Strategy (NDS), which called for a shift in the primary focus of the Department of Defense (DoD) from conventional wars to the ‘irregular’ wars being fought with nations like Afghanistan and Iraq. It highlights the importance of urgent action and superior importance of the war against insurgent groups which threaten the international order. Therefore, while advocating the need for modernization of the conventional military resources, it also calls to prepare against the terrorists and extremists using extremely dangerous tactics which include nuclear and missile proliferation, chemical and biological threats, and electronic and cyber warfare[footnoteRef:7]. [7: The National Defense Strategy of the United States of America, June 2008, 1]

The NDS states five main objectives which include defending homeland, promoting security and deterring conflict. However, it creates a division between the war against terrorism and the war against rogue states like North Korea and Iran[footnoteRef:8]. It recognizes a ‘balanced strategy’ as the key to success which is aimed at protecting the United States, winning the wars, and promoting long-term peace. However, Gates conceded that such a war cannot be fought by the United States alone. It recognizes the importance of the allies of the United States of America in this ‘war against terror’ and prioritizes their security and effective governance to counter any opportunity for the insurgents to find a safe haven on their land, or expand their network[footnoteRef:9]. The plan is not to attack enemy from foreign land, but to enable each nation to counter such threats on its own ability. [8: Ibid., 6] [9: International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Afghanistan Commander Counterinsurgency Guidance, 1-4]

The NDS is aware of the fact that such relations with the rest of the world can only be developed through diplomatic dialogue and strategic communication. The NDS recognizes that key states like China and Russia should always be deterred from attacking the United States, which promising an overwhelming response. It also aims to prevent adversaries from acquiring or using Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) through non-proliferation efforts[footnoteRef:10], while also being mindful of the greater threats which may be more difficult to detect or eliminate with the available technology. [10: The National Military Strategy of the United States of America, June 2008, 14-15]

The NDS highlights the importance of learning an important lesson from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, that military success alone is insufficient for victory. It also recognizes the heavy burden placed on the Department of Defense with the task of long-term reconstruction, governance and development. In the 2006 Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR), all the objectives were detailed, but the NDS points out that the capabilities of DoD are not sufficient to address all missions. The NDS recommends institutionalization of the U.S. Armed Forces and using civilian capabilities which could reduce deployment of American soldiers abroad. The capability of effectively communicating what the United States is and what it aims to achieve on the pillars of freedom and democracy is crucial for a positive outcome of the long war, as well as for the international relations with its allies. The NDS does not fail to address the power of innovation and Science, developing and redefining America’s own capabilities.

To meet these challenges, United States requires resourcefulness and careful balancing of the risks and assets to implement this strategy. The NDS stresses on the sharing of information and intelligence as a vital component of national security. It makes a point out of investing in the right kind of technology at the right time to ahead of the States’ adversaries[footnoteRef:11], while also maintaining high regard to invest in individuals who could realize their full potential in terms or resource, knowledge, skills and capabilities. [11: Quadrennial Defense Review Report, February 2010, 80]

3. The strategy towards Somalia is not much different from what we are currently witnessing in Iraq, and hopefully will see in Afghanistan as well. The main objective of the strategy concerning the Somalis is the development of Somalia with a democratic infrastructure in place and an elected government with enough power and control over the Somali territory to resist extremists undermining the stability of this authority[footnoteRef:12]. Whereas eradication of terrorism and extremism has been the most important world-wide objective, the mission to redevelop Somalia has been given great priority. It has been almost two decades that the Somalis had a chance to live peacefully in a humane environment[footnoteRef:13]. Seeing this real opportunity of a peaceful Somalia, the United States has helped and assisted the Somalis rebuild their country[footnoteRef:14]. [12: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 5 May 2010, 8] [13: Somalia: An Opportunity that Should Not Be Missed, Crisis Group Africa Briefing N”87, February 2012, 2] [14: Ibid., 3-4]

It has been recognized that the redevelopment of Somalia is not an easy task, given that no basic infrastructure including law enforcement, judicial, health or education has existed for over 15 years. Transitional Federal Institutions (TFI) and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) have been established and empowered to initiate the developmental process in Somalia. The Transitional Federal Charter provides the framework for the operation of the TFI and the TFG. The need for ample external assistance has been brought to light to support this cause of promoting peace and reconciliation, and strengthening the Somali economy and creating jobs while preserving human rights and liberties. Somalis living abroad and other powerful nations have been consistently approached to donate towards the cause of rebuilding Somalia as a civil society. Such development, however, cannot effectively progress until the threat to TFI and TFG is eliminated. Therefore, the primary focus of the United States is to stabilize the situation in Somalia.

One of the ways employed by the United States to achieve its objectives is through good relations and coalitions with different states and powerful organizations such as NATO, the African Union, UN, EU and the Arab League[footnoteRef:15]. Such strong alliances with other nations provide even more assist in the form of armed forces[footnoteRef:16], civilian assist and donations to tackle the situation present in Somalia. Billions of Dollars have been donated towards this cause[footnoteRef:17], a large chunk of which has been donated by Somali migrates. Uganda has also offered military assistance to Somalia to help stabilize the situation. [15: Richard L. Taylor, Tribal Alliances: Ways, Means and Ends to Successful Strategy, August 2005, 3-6] [16: Somalia: Joint Strategy Paper for the period 2008-2013, Member States and Norway Review of Programmes, Progress from Past to Present Cooperation, 4] [17: Ted Dagne, Somalia: Current Conditions and Prospects for a Lasting Peace, August 31, 2011, 3-4]

It has also been recognized that active political dialogue between TFG and TFI is crucial to the long-term stability of Somalia[footnoteRef:18]. However, strengthening of these institutions is also crucial if such process is to be effectively sustained. The Somali population has also been given an important role in renouncing extremism and work constructively with the TFG and the TFI. Efforts have also been made to include clans and groups in the political process which have previously been excluded from such representation. The more fortunate Somalis have also been urged to take active part in the development of Somalia, while humanitarian efforts are also underway to assist the population affected by natural disasters. [18: Ken Menkhaus, Horn of Africa: Current Conditions and U.S. Policy, Hearing before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, June 17, 2010]

The ‘ends’ that the United States of America hopes to meet is the development of a peaceful Somalia, free of terrorism with a stable government which has strong authority. The TFI and TFG cannot continue to function effectively if they are under a threat of attack. The ‘ways’ and ‘means’ through which the States hopes to achieve its objective is through peaceful dialogue and much needed intervention and foreign aid to finance large-scale development.

4. Surviving through decades of tyranny and shocking absence of human rights, Somalia found its way to the top rank of failed states[footnoteRef:19]. With the help of organizations like NATO, UN, and AU, the United States of America, in attempting to organize and redevelop Somalia, established a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to create order in chaos. The strategy involved the use of this government to limit extremists and terrorists making their safe haven in Somalia, while also limiting smuggled arms and ammunitions flowing in and out of the country and threatening the broader region around Somalia. However, it is evident now that TFG has failed to make much difference due to heightened corruption[footnoteRef:20]. Yet, TFG operates and the future legitimacy or effectiveness of its operations remains uncertain. TFG has been heavily accused of committing war crimes and the corruption associated with them is also linked with enabling Somali pirates. Although interventions have been made by the United States and other international groups, it does not confirm that the future will be any different. [19: Official Failed States List 2012, The Fund for Peace. Retrieved on 09-27-2012] [20: Horn of Africa: Current Conditions and U.S. Policy, Hearing before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, Testimony by Ken Menkhaus, June 17, 2010]

With humanitarian efforts under way in Somalia, existence of extremists, or even a corrupt government, puts the lives of the working people at risk. In the past, such humanitarian workers have been assaulted, kidnapped and killed, leaving fear and reluctance to do humanitarian work in Somalia[footnoteRef:21]. Looking to the future is futile if one does not learn from the past. If such incidents continue to happen, Somalis may find themselves without any such help reaching them. Continued corruption of the Somali transitional government also means that more and more donation funds will continue to be misallocated, resulting in a decline in foreign donations and aid. Lack of funding can potentially harm the strategy of the United States and development will obviously become impossible. The biggest donors helping redevelop Somalia are Somali Diasporas. If the ongoing corruption and misplacement of donation funds continues, Somalia will see itself at a loss of financial and other aid. Transparency between TFG, TFI and the international institutions is not only important but compulsory if this mission is to be achieved successfully. [21: UNHCR Eligibility Guidelines for assessing the International Protection Needs of Asylum-seekers from Somalia, 5 May 2010, 13-15]

Although aggression is required to counter terrorism and extremism in Somalia, rising civilian casualties by official action could cause a change in the perspective of the Somali population. Moreover, Somalis may find themselves deep in the complex and confusion trying to determine who the enemy really is. This is evident by the reaction of the general population of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and even Somalia. Such a happening could result in members of the Somali population joining forces or offering support for the Islamic extremists. In the wake of increasing support to the extremists, the United States may see itself deploying more foreign troops or ordering the exit of insufficient number of troops[footnoteRef:22]. In such an event, Somalia will continue to see its focus being drawn away from development and still attending to emergency needs with no progress. [22: Somalia: Several Challenges Limit U.S. And International Stabilization, Humanitarian, and Development Efforts, Report to Congressional Requesters, United States Government Accountability Office, February 2008, 10-12]

In the past, limited participation of all the Somali parties and their lack of efforts were the reasons Somalia suffered a setback in promoting reconciliation[footnoteRef:23]. The TFG was given the initiative to initiate talks with the parties, however, its corruption led to the exclusion of a number of Somali parties and no progress was made. These issues within the TFG have not been completely resolved and orders such decisions by the United States of America may result in history needlessly repeating itself. However, no matter what plan of action is taken, the risk will remain high as the worst rated nation is helped back on its feet. [23: Ibid., 13-15]


Dagne, Ted, Somalia: Current Conditions and Prospects for a Lasting Peace, August 31, 2011, 3-4

Testimony by Menkhaus, Ken, Horn of Africa: Current Conditions and U.S. Policy, Hearing before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, June 17, 2010

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Afghanistan Commander Counterinsurgency Guidance, 1-4

Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, Report to Congress, March 2009, 1

National Defense Strategy of the United States of America, June 2008, 1, 6

National Military Strategy of the United States of America, June 2008, 14-15

Official Failed States List 2012, The Fund for Peace., (Accessed on 09-27-2012)

Somalia: An Opportunity that Should Not Be Missed, Crisis Group Africa Briefing N”87, February 2012, 2-4

Somalia: Joint Strategy Paper for the period 2008-2013, Member States and Norway Review of Programmes, Progress from Past to Present Cooperation, 4

Somalia: Several Challenges Limit U.S. And International Stabilization, Humanitarian, and Development Efforts, Report to Congressional Requesters, United States Government Accountability Office, February 2008, 10-15

Taylor, Richard L., Tribal Alliances: Ways, Means and Ends to Successful Strategy, August 2005, 3-6

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation Nuclear Weapons 1968, Article 1

UNHCR Eligibility Guidelines for assessing the International Protection Needs of Asylum-seekers from Somalia, 5 May 2010, 13-15

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Speech, 5 May 2010, 8

United States of America National Security Strategy, May 2010, 5, 8

United States of America Quadrennial Defense Review Report, February 2010, 6, 12, 80

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